Since he last coached in 2011, former Hogs head coach Houston Nutt has mostly commented on the news as a CBS college football analyst.
On Wednesday, however, he made some news of his own.
On The Buzz 103.7 FM, Nutt said that an Arkansas athletic administrator contacted him about the Hogs head coach position.
“Jon Fagg, the Assistant AD, has called me to… just kind of touch base. Nothing big, but I think they’re down the road a little bit” on the coaching search.
“I think they’re zeroed in on a few guys and again, it’s probably still early. This is a very important hire, and we all of course love Arkansas and right now this is a turning point. This is is going to be very, very important in the recruiting.”
“Of course, I wouldn’t worry too much about a lot of de-commits [recruiting recommitments from the class of 2020]. I get a lot of people calling because we’ve lost 12 players. Well that’s gonna happen, you know, because you don’t know who your leader is yet. But that can change.”
David Bazzel, co-host of The Show With No Name, pointed out Fagg is working with UA athletic director Hunter Yurachek to help with the Razorback football coach search process. He then asked Nutt: “If you were not offered this coaching position, would you be interested in some day coming back and being involved with the athletic department?”
Nutt’s Dream Job
“Absolutely,” Houston Nutt said. “And you know when you grow up as a little boy in the state of Arkansas going to Little Rock games, calling the Hogs and putting on a red jumpsuit to be a ball boy and then getting to play for the Razorbacks — and then getting to be an assistant and head coach — it was a dream come true.”
Nutt then shared a story about what he’d consider a dream job involving the Hogs. He referenced a CBS analyst work trip to Texas A&M in which he spoke to former Aggies head coach R.C. Slocum.
He saw Slocum hanging around the stadium and asked him what his job was. “He says, ‘Well, I get to go in suites on game day, and I get to sit in the suite number one, first quarter, then go to the next suite and go talk to these guys, alums, boosters in quarter two. And quarter three, I go to this suite and then I play in five golf tournaments.’
‘And guess what? I’m a better coach each and every year that’s passed. I’m a better coach [in hindsight] and get to tell a lot of good stories.'”
A similar dynamic has played out with fans’ recollections of Nutt at Arkansas. While he coached in Fayetteville from 1998 to 2007, many fans got sick of his teams’ failure to win SEC Championship game. But, given the current state of the program, the fact the Hogs were winning the SEC West at all looks great.
Fans would love to see a coach who can win more than half of his SEC games in the aftermath of the Bret Bielema and Chad Morris eras.
So much so that a group actually like to see Nutt coach the team again. On top of that, a group of former Razorback football players would also like to see Nutt again be a Razorbacks coach or involved in administrations.
Nutt specifically mentioned Grant Garrett, Darren McFadden, Boo Williams, Kenny Hamlin, Sam Olajubutu, Lorenzo Robinson as players who have said ‘Hey coach, we want you back at our school.’
“That makes you feel good, because they know — they’ve been in the locker room, they know how we treated them out of the locker room and inside it.”
While Nutt becoming the head coach again is unlikely, the call from Fagg shows the UA still values his input. He knows a lot of coaches, and it’s probable Yurachek and Fagg want to get his thoughts on other top candidates.
Still, just for fun, what would Houston Nutt say to the Razorbacks if he were coaching them this weekend on the road against No. 1 LSU?
What Houston Nutt Would Tell the 2019 Hogs
Here’s the answer: “Don’t worry about nothing,” Nutt would tell these Hogs. “The pressure is on [LSU]. You’re playing the number one team. We get to go to a great environment… so let’s control the things we can control.”
Let’s say we control the snap count. That means we’re not going to have an illegal procedure. We can control how we line up. We’re not going to jump off side. We’re not going to hit anybody in the back. We’re going to protect the most precious thing we have — the ball — do all the little things, have a good game plan. Let’s go down there and go play the greatest game in the world.”
Listen to the entire interview here:
Controversy ensues: David Bazzel addresses alleged criticism from the UA Board regarding the above interview
In the day following the Nutt interview, Bazzel heard that a few members on the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees were displeased that he and co-host Roger Scott had asked Nutt about the job.
Bazzel went off on that possibility.
“Anybody on that board criticize anything that we talk about on this show?” Bazzel questioned how the the trustees (along with UA Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz and former interim AD Julia Cromer Peoples) were the ones who hired the coach [Chad Morris] who was just fired after 18 months. “So you didn’t listen to me. Didn’t listen to Kevin Scanlan, didn’t listen to anybody. You had the number one defense coordinator in America in Brent Venables who you didn’t call. So I don’t want to hear anything from the U of A board of trustees or anybody. Don’t point at us.”
He added that he wants to see Steinmetz stop having such a heavy hand in the direction of the athletic department. “Steinmetz needs to be out of the athletic business. We’ve had the last two presidents get involved with that and listen, I understand.” Still, “they don’t come to our football coaches or our athletic people and ask them on our opinion on who’s going to be the next board of the business school.”
Listen to Bazzel’s entire rebuttal here:
The last time Arkansas beat a No. 1 LSU team this classic moment happened: